What to know before getting a puppy

December 21, 2021 - 5 min read

This article was written for the United Kingdom market and the advice provided may not be accurate for those in the United States.

Dog with a chew toy

Getting a puppy is a big decision. It can bring a lot of love into your home, but can also mean some adjustments.

In this guide we’ll help you to prepare for your puppy, with tips and advice about:

  • Whether to adopt or buy a puppy

  • The costs of dog ownership

  • What breed of dog to choose

  • How much time and attention your new friend will need

  • How to choose the right puppy insurance

Should I buy or adopt a dog?

If you decide to buy a puppy, be sure to go to a reputable breeder. The Kennel Club has information including a list of approved breeders.

On 6 April 2020 the Government introduced Lucy's Law, which means that anyone who wants to buy a puppy or kitten under six months old must deal directly with a breeder or animal rehoming center. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth.

Alternatively, there are hundreds of rescue centers across the country. You might not always find a puppy but they often have young dogs who need a home and caring owners. A quick Google search should give you an idea of where your nearest rescue centres can be found.

If you decide on a rescue puppy, here’s what you need to know about rescue dog insurance. Don’t worry, finding cover for a rescue dog shouldn’t be any harder than for any other pup.

CTA _16

Top-ranked* puppy insurance

Puppy parenting is tricky. Puppy insurance shouldn't be.

Learn more about our puppy insurance policies designed to help you focus on your pet's health, not paw-blems. *According to Forbes Advisor’s “Best Pet Insurance of 2023”

CTA _16

How much does it cost to own a dog?

According to the PDSA, it can cost up to £30,800 to care for a dog across its lifetime.

Although you need to be prepared for the costs that come with looking after a dog, don't forget it’ll be spread out over a number of years. And there are ways to spend less or protect yourself from unexpected bills, such as considering pet insurance.

Our Technical Claims manager Sarah Dawson is a qualified Vet Nurse. She says there are four key costs new pet owners need to think about. They can add up to around £600 in the first few weeks, on top of what you pay to buy your puppy.

  1. The basic essentials - £225 - This can include everything from a bed, food and water bowls, toys and chews to keep them stimulated, pet food to a lead, collar and tag. Prices vary and its key to remember your pet will grow quickly so owners should shop around for the best deal. Food should be calculated as part of an owner's monthly outgoings, usually around £25 for medium-sized dogs. Use our puppy shopping list to find out exactly what you need to buy and where you can get it online.

  2. Routine health care - £150 - Make sure you budget for flea, worming and vaccinations. Initial vaccinations for puppies and kittens might come to £150 depending on size and breed. Annual boosters will cost around £40 after that. Find out the average cost of vaccinations in your area. Vaccinations, as well as flea and worm medication, are preventive treatments so they’re not covered by insurance. However, ManyPets Flea, tick and worm plan offers treatment that can protect your pet against these parasites. You’ll get a discount on the plan and you don’t need to have an insurance policy to buy it.

  3. Vet bills and insurance - £15-32+ (monthly) - The most common claim for vet treatment can cost almost £500, and some other long-term issues like hereditary heart diseases can cost up to £5,000 to manage. Many owners choose to take out pet insurance so their pets have access to the best treatment without having to worry about the bill. The average annual cost of insurance is £386 for dogs but the cost of insurance will depend on the type of policy you take, where you live, your pet’s age and breed.

  4. Training and behaviour - £125 - We’ve seen a rise in behaviour-associated claims for younger pets, which can cost an average of £252 per claim, so it's always best to start training early. Some online training courses can cost around £125 but at the time of writing, new ManyPets customers can get a discount on The Dog Coach's online training course. You can also read our guides to house training, crate training and sorting out common puppy problems like barking and biting.

What breed of puppy should I get?

The right breed of puppy for you and your family depends on things like your lifestyle, the home that you live in and your location.

If you live in a flat in an urban area it might be worth considering a smaller dog that doesn't need as much exercise as a larger or particularly energetic breed.

It's worth narrowing it down to a few breeds that might be a good fit before doing in-depth research. You need to think about your situation as well as the needs of the puppy.

For example, large dogs like Labradors can make great family pets for those with big gardens and plenty of time for walks.

For a family dog, you’ll want a happy and healthy breed that’ll be good with children.

Some popular breeds of family dogs, from smallest to largest are:

  1. Brussels Griffon - A toy breed with big, expressive eyes and an ample personality for their diminutive size.

  2. Pug -  Big fans of sleeping and eating and they have a special affinity with children.

  3. French Bulldog - A small, low-maintenance dog that’s playful, responds well to training, and isn’t too barky.

  4. Collie - One of the smartest dogs, which is brilliant if you think your children will benefit from teaching your dog tricks or setting them tasks.

  5. Labrador Retriever - The loyal lab is likely to adore and be adored by the whole family, but they do need a few hours of high-quality exercise per day.

  6. Irish Setter - Affectionate and majestic, and they love to spend time outdoors. You’ll need plenty of room and time for boundless exercise.

  7. Bernese Mountain Dog - A big, powerful breed, but their size belies a sweet nature. These gentle giants can be great with small children.

  8. Newfoundland - Sometimes known as the ‘nanny dog’, due to being patient and watchful.

You’ll need to have a big car and they’re a bit on the slobbery side, but they’re devoted, seldom bark, and love people.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the breeds that fit your lifestyle it’s important to remember that you’ll have to do some of the work to nurture and train your dog to make sure it becomes and happy and healthy member of your family.

Getting a dog can be rewarding and valuable for families. When children grow up with dogs, it helps nurture their responsibility and compassion. It’s also likely to help prevent any nerves or hang-ups they may have about animals when they get older.

You can talk to vets, friends who have experience with dogs. You should consider joining Facebook groups and forums to ask owners questions or reach out to breeders.

You should also bear in mind that some breeds can cost a lot more to insure than others.

How much attention does a puppy need?

The simple answer is, they will demand a lot of your time in the first few weeks.

Puppies need love, attention and regular exercise. Not to mention lots of training and a stable daily routine.

You shouldn’t take them out for walks until they've completed their initial vaccination course so you'll have to keep them entertained at home. You'll want to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't eat anything they shouldn't or destroy any of your prized possessions.

Once they've settled in and if you then need to leave the house for long periods of time you will need to consider getting a dog walker or a pet sitter.

When should I get pet insurance?

It’s a good idea to take out puppy insurance while they’re young and healthy.

If your dog develops a condition while they’re uninsured, an insurance company will often not cover that condition when you do decide to get cover.

Despite their age, younger dogs can still suffer from accidents and illnesses that can lead to significant vet costs.

It’s easy to panic as a new puppy parent when your dog’s is sick or showing any other signs of illness, but it's fairly common for puppies to be sick in their first few weeks.

Although there might be no reason for alarm, it's always worth speaking to a vet if you're worried. With ManyPets pet insurance you can video call a vet 24/7 through FirstVet so you can get expert advice without leaving your home.

If a pet needs major surgery or develops an ongoing condition that requires vet treatment and medication over many years, vet costs can run to thousands of pounds. For example:

  • Luxating patella – if your pet needed surgery on both knees this could cost £1,600

  • Heart problems – open heart surgery can cost up to £10,000

  • Hip dysplasia – if your pet needed both hips replaced, it could cost £7,000

How to choose dog insurance

Most people decide to get dog insurance so that they can cover the cost of any expected vet bills due to accidents and illness.

Some insurers offer different types of cover, usually known as time limited, per condition, and lifetime). There’s usually also several different levels of cover to choose from, for example

£4,000, £7,000, and £12,000. The more comprehensive the cover you choose, the more your policy’s likely to cost.

At Bought by Many, we keep things simple by only offering lifetime pet insurance, which is policies that have an annual vet fee limit that refreshes each year when you renew.  Our Complete policy comes with £15,000 of vet fee cover and includes dental accident and illness as standard.

With a lifetime product, it’s important to understand that your premiums will increase each year at renewal. Your excess might also increase as your pet gets older.

Insuring smaller dog breeds tends to be cheaper than for large breeds. Bigger dogs are thought to age faster and have shorter life spans. You may also find that mixed breeds and mongrels are cheaper to insure than pedigree dogs. Some breeds, such as French Bulldogs, can be particularly expensive to insure.